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Steve Smith came to the crease in Ranchi yesterday at 1-50. Just over 15 overs later, Australia were 3-89 and at real risk of a poor first-innings score on a wicket that was playing a lot better than expected.
These are the situations Smith seems to thrives in, and we now know that he went on to score an unbeaten 117.
Along with a great performance from Glen Maxwell, Australia were just shy of 300 at stumps, with only four wickets down. After a disappointing first session, the tourists hold the upper hand after Day 1.
It’s easy to forget that Smith came into the Australian Test team as a leg spinner who was handy with the bat. Shane Warne he is not, but I reckon Warne would have been happy with over 5000 Test runs, a batting average of 60.73 and 19 Test centuries.
A sure sign of Smith’s class is that he has scored Test centuries away to all the major nations, with the exception of Pakistan in the UAE – although he has scored a 97 in one of his two Tests there, so we can probably forgive him that one.
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However, what Smith has done as captain is even more impressive.
Smith has amassed 2500 runs over 23 Tests since taking on captaincy duties in 2014, with an average of 73.55. And while these statistics are hard to find, you get the feeling that these runs were mainly scored when Australia was in trouble.
Yesterday’s innings was a perfect example. Smith took an hour in the 90s, but that didn’t faze him. His job was not only to get to 100, it was to be there at the end of Day 1, and be building a large total on Day 2. He is all about the team and this innings was no different.
Doing it in what is clearly the toughest overseas tour for any Test nation, and after the DRS dramas in Bangalore, proves that other than just being a great batsman, he is mentally tough.
So, at just past the halfway mark of this tour, the skipper has scored two centuries, which is two more than anyone from either Australia or India. And while the Indian batsmen may do better on this deck when they do get the opportunity to bat, I get the feeling that Steve Smith isn’t done yet.